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Tracking Activities & Public Health Actions

Oregon Tracking’s Implementation of the Integrated Transport and Health Impact Model (ITHIM) Model for Metro’s Climate Smart Strategy

What was the problem/situation? The 2009 Oregon Legislature required the Portland metropolitan region (Metro) to develop a plan to reduce per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cars and small trucks by 20 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2035. To meet this GHG emission reduction target, Metro used regional transportation policy scenario planning over the past four years to evaluate and discuss a range of technological improvements, education programs, and land use and transportation investments intended to reduce emissions and lower average vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by the region’s cars and small trucks. There were four separate climate smart scenarios that were being considered by Metro. The Oregon Health Authority’s Health Impact Assessment (HIA) program partnered with Metro to evaluate the scenarios in regards to potential health impacts of alternative land use and transportation strategies selected by Metro planners and local stakeholders for their regional vision.

How was Tracking involved? Oregon Tracking provided support for the HIA by applying the Integrated Transport and Health Impact Model (ITHIM). The modelling tool was used to estimate changes in burden of disease from changes in travel behavior. ITHIM uses shifts in travel behavior from trips taken by car to active modes of transportation to estimate changes in metabolic equivalency tasks (METs) and formulates the percent of disease and disability that is attributable to the change in physical activity from a baseline scenario to an alternative. The model also considers effects from pollutants as it also estimates changes in burden of disease from changes in pollutant emission exposure. The health outcome data in the model includes serious traffic injuries and fatalities, acute and chronic respiratory disease, chronic heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, depression and dementia. Oregon Tracking populated the model with Metro’s travel model data, regional traffic injuries and fatalities, and provided data on disease-specific deaths and years of potential life lost from Oregon’s vital statistics database.

What action was taken to resolve the problem? In October 2014, Metro selected their preferred scenario that formed their Climate Smart Strategy. Their decision on a preferred scenario was influenced by the results from the ITHIM model, which Oregon Tracking applied and provided the data for all scenarios being considered. The model outputs of the preferred scenario showed that investments in land use and transportation systems not only protect health by reducing the risk of climate change, they may also improve the region’s health by increasing physical activity, reducing traffic collisions and improving air quality. The results suggested that in the year 2035, the total amount of prevented premature deaths will be 126 after adjusting for population growth. Forty-eight percent of those prevented deaths are due to an increase in physical activity levels, forty-seven percent of prevented deaths are due to decreased ambient PM2.5 levels and five percent of prevented deaths are attributed to safer road conditions. The model also indicated that the preferred scenario would result in a decrease of 1,960 disability adjusted life years (DALYs), which are years of potential life lost plus years living with a disability. Disease rates would also decrease by 1.6%.

The finalized Climate Smart Strategy is a set of key policies and strategies that provide more transportation options, create healthy communities, grow the economy all while reducing greenhouse emissions by at least twenty percent by 2035. Metro has already used the Climate Smart Strategy to direct three short-term actions in 2015 and 2016:

  1. Advocate for increased federal, state, regional and local transportation funding for all transportation modes as part of a diverse coalition, with top priorities of maintaining and preserving existing infrastructure, and implementing transit service enhancement plans and transit-supportive investments.
  2. Advocate for federal and state governments to advance Oregon’s transition to cleaner, low carbon fuels, and more fuel-efficient vehicle technologies.
  3. Seek opportunities to advance local and regional projects that best combine the most effective greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies.

Featured Reports & Publications 

Driving Health Forward: Driver's License Data for Population Based BMI Assessment

View this map of Oregonians' weight based on data from state-issued drivers' licenses and identification cards. These data, from the Driver & Motor Vehicle Services Division (DMV), reveal patterns at a level of detail not available from other data sources. But, doesn't everybody lie about their height and weight? And who updates their height and weight when it is time to renew? To learn more, check out our  full report. and view the data in Oregon Tracking's portal. Obesity Research and Clinical Practice also published Oregon Tracking's work here


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